Someone Takes a Pine Tree Apart
Because this summer the seventy-year-old pines
the original residents planted
have started falling on the neighborhood’s houses,
splitting some as easily as cardboard boxes,
many mornings have begun like this one,
with a man climbing to the top branches,
a chainsaw dangling from a rope around his waist.
Today, it’s our tree, one of the tallest for miles,
anchored to the drought-crumbled soil
by rotting roots. There’s something artistic,
almost, about the way he dismembers
the very thing that holds him up,
the shorn branches more sinking than falling
as workers on the ground lower them by rope.
A hard-to-place sadness, too, in watching
as the trunk flails with each loss like an animal
trying to reach some unreachable pain.
Think a lanced bull. Think . . . No, there are things
that aren’t like other things. And this is one.
All morning I’ve watched as these men,
whose language I don’t understand, slowly dismantle
the risks necessity gives them. Soon,
they’ll haul away all evidence of their work,
save for the huge stump ground to a blond dust
and a couple of abstractions: absence
and the feeling of safety when the wind picks up
and the rain weakens the soil, the once-hard ground.